Look for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry to target the operations of the state’s judiciary in its 2015 legislative push.

LABI President Stephen Waguespack served notice in a column he penned.

LABI’s legislative agenda will include an effort to “bring increased transparency and accountability to the judiciary,” Waguespack wrote. “Over the last few years, reforms that increase transparency in budgeting and enhance ethical requirements for public officials have passed for the Executive and Legislative branches. Unfortunately, all too often, the Judiciary has not been held to these same standards.”

Legislative gains in 2014 brought “fundamental improvements in Louisiana’s judicial environment,” Waguespack said. He mentioned a ban on state use of contingency fee contracts, a strengthening of “legacy lawsuit reforms” and clarification of what entities can bring a lawsuit from activity regulated by state or federal coastal use permits, i.e., the lawsuit aiming to stop the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.

Black Conservatives to launch chapter

The Black Conservatives Fund, a national political action committee that primarily promotes right-leaning, African-American candidates for public office, has announced that it will launch a state chapter in Louisiana.

In a tweet last week, the group said it had picked Louisiana as its first state and would be identifying two others for its state chapter pilot program.

The Black Conservatives Fund most recently worked in Louisiana on the U.S. Senate race, promoting Republican Bill Cassidy over incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu.

During the Senate race, the Black Conservatives Fund teamed up with state Sen. Elbert Guillory, an Opelousas Republican who is running for lieutenant governor. Guillory, the state’s only black Republican legislator, appeared in an ad that the fund sponsored criticizing Landrieu.

The group drew even more attention when it hired two men to wear anti-Landrieu signs at Cassidy’s victory party.

Louisiana holds statewide elections in 2015.

Morrell to join Senate Education Committee

State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said he will join the Senate Education Committee.

“As a father of two young children, I want to do my part to ensure that Louisiana is a place where they can receive a world-class education,” Morrell said in a prepared statement.

The lawmaker will leave his post on the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

The opening on the education panel stems from state Sen. Jack Donahue’s decision to leave the committee.

Donahue, R-Mandeville, is chairman of the time-consuming Senate Finance Committee.

Events to pay tribute to Battle of New Orleans

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and the Battle of New Orleans Bicentennial Commission are inviting the public to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans with several events during the first week of January. Events include everything from re-enactments to a fireworks show.

“The Battle of New Orleans is one of the most important battles fought on American soil,” Dardenne said in a prepared statement. “The events planned will commemorate this historic battle and recognize our steadfast relationship with Great Britain since the War of 1812 ended.”

In addition to special events, Sir Peter Westmacott, British ambassador to the United States, will come to New Orleans to commemorate the battle and celebrate the allied relationship that exists today.

The U.S. Postal Service will release a limited edition Forever stamp to commemorate the battle featuring a rendering of Andrew Jackson commanding his troops.

Newly elected Rep. Abraham fills out staff

Congressman-elect Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, filled out his staff last week.

Most of the hires live in the 5th Congressional District, which covers much of northeast and central Louisiana as well as parts of the Florida Parishes.

“We are continuing to build a well-rounded staff that can effectively serve the day-to-day needs of our constituents,” Abraham said.

Wyatt Lobrano, of Rayville, will serve as the Louisiana district director. Lobrano joins Abraham’s staff after working as the administrator of the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, where he oversaw a 24-person staff throughout West Carroll, Richland and Franklin parishes.

Keith Brown, of Monroe, will serve as Abraham’s director of district outreach. Brown has been the director of governmental relations for the University of Louisiana at Monroe since 2002 and executive director of alumni and community relations since 2005.

Courtney Alexander, originally of Maryland, was hired as Abraham’s deputy communications director and legislative aide. Alexander worked as U.S. Sen.-elect Bill Cassidy’s northeast Louisiana field director during the midterm election. She will assist with responding to questions from the media and with district communications. She also will assist in developing legislation and policy.

Abraham also tapped Blake Lasuzzo, originally of Slidell, as legislative correspondent. Lasuzzo worked as a legislative correspondent and staff assistant for U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. He will help respond to constituents’ questions about legislation and other requests.

Lilia Boies, of Mangham, will assume the role of Monroe office manager. Boies, who graduated from Neville High School and attended Louisiana Tech University, is a longtime employee of Abraham’s. She managed the bookkeeping for Abraham’s medical practice.

Patricia Haynes-Smith named Woman of Year

The National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women named state Rep. Patricia Haynes-Smith its Woman of the Year.

Haynes-Smith received the award at the group’s annual legislative breakfast last month in Dallas.

The award honors women “who transform their positions of public service into vessels of social change.”

Haynes-Smith has been a legislator from a Baton Rouge district since 2007. She served as chair of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus for two terms. She is secretary of the NOBEL Women’s group.

Jobert steps down as director of state group

Frank Jobert is stepping down as executive director of the Retired State Employees Association.

But Jobert isn’t going too far. He’ll continue as the group’s director of legislative and governmental affairs in 2015.

Jobert lives in Slidell, and the association is headquartered in Baton Rouge. That meant lots of miles chalked up as he tended to daily operations of the association, Jobert said. The new setup will reduce that travel and still keep him actively involved, Jobert said. “I’m not giving up on RSEA by any stretch,” he said.

Taking over as executive director for the retiree group is Lorry Trotter, a former member of the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System board.

Also leaving the retiree group is its longtime office manager Paula Clark. New office manager is Laurie Roche.

Warden Burl Cain to address Press Club

Burl Cain, Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola warden, who says he is considering a run for governor this year, will be the speaker at the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday.

The Press Club meets at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel in the Iberville Room. Parking is free in the Mayflower Street garage. Lunch is served starting at 11:30 a.m. The cost is $15 for nonmembers and $12 for members. The speakers start at 12:15 p.m. and end by 1 p.m.

Graves holding open house for swearing-in

Congressman-elect Garret Graves is holding a swearing-in open house Tuesday in his new Washington, D.C., office.

The event takes place 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in his new office at 204 Cannon House Office Building on C Street Southeast.

RSVP to Kevin Roig, kevin@garret2014.com.

Pachyderms hosting Skrmetta swearing-in

Pelican State Pachyderm Club is hosting the swearing-in of Louisiana Public Service Commission Chairman Eric Skrmetta’s second term on Tuesday at the Chateau Country Club, 3600 Chateau Blvd., Kenner.

The celebration is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. RSVP to Debbie (504) 583-0642 or skrmetta@cox.net.

Livingston women’s group meeting set

The Livingston Parish Republican Women will hold its monthly meeting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Big Mike’s, 123 Aspen Square, Denham Springs, which is just north of I-12 off of Range Avenue.

The public is welcome to attend. There is a charge for lunch. Reservations are recommended and may be made by contacting Terri Day at (225) 931-9206 or terriday@eatel.net.

Libertarian Party meeting Jan. 10

The Libertarian Party of Louisiana scheduled its 2015 State Central Committee meeting at La Caretta of downtown Ponchatoula, 147 NW Railroad Ave., for Jan. 10.

Lunch is served at 12 p.m. (pay own way) and meeting begins at 1:15 p.m. Any registered Libertarians are invited, or you can register at the meeting.

Contact email is mballard@theadvocate.com. For up-to-the-minute news from the Louisiana Legislature, state and federal government follow our Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/ or on Twitter, @AdvocateCNB.